CSO Insights * yesterday released their 16th. Sales Performance Optimization Survey of more than 2800 Chief Sales Officers (CSO's) around the World from many different industries.
The top 5 initiatives for Chief Sales Officers in the software business in 2010, with a survey sample of more than 320 respondents, are as follows:-
- Sales leaders want to revise lead generation
- They want closer alignment with marketing
- They plan to revise team structure
- They want a better understanding of the buying process
- They also want to provide better Rep access to information
- They plan to revise the sales process
What I distill from this chart and what differs from last year is that CSO's are looking for an edge in lead generation and conversion into sales opportunities. Lead generation was on top last year as well, but sales and marketing alignment has moved up from third to second priority. I believe the methods are now clearly defined - such that I can confidently say that the best practices for increasing lead generation and conversion into opportunities are to;
1. Align Sales and Marketing Messaging around the Buyer-Persona to create Buyer-Relevant-Messaging to drive Inbound Marketing campaigns and elevate the standard of sales conversations around how products/services are used to solve buyer issues. This is a first step in an Inbound Marketing - Sequence of Events as it creates buyer-relevance for Inbound Marketing Initiatives.
2. Implement Inbound Marketing to cost-effectively generate 5-10X leads in the first 6 months of implementation: HubSpot has defined the Inbound Marketing platform and process and they are rapidly gaining momentum with an integrated set of tools, enabling closer cooperation between sales and marketing to orchestrate the lead generation, lead-scoring, lead-nurturing and hand-over process.
3. Sales leaders are recognising the need for inbound sales/sales operations to qualify and respond to inbound inquiries within an hour of visiting the Website. We know from InsideSales.com that a sales lead is 100X more likely to engage in a conversation with a salesperson and become an opportunity if they are contacted within one hour of converting into a lead (by opting-in to providing their contact details in response to an offer).
4. Analyzing the customer buying process may not drive inbound leads, but aligning with the way customers buy (determined by product/market maturity and buyer risk tolerance) will reduce cost of sale and help sales managers to decide when to qualify out of deals that are likely to end in a loss or no-decision.
All purchasing decisions go the though the IMPACT cycle.
In the technology business, being out of alignment with how the customer buys can kill a start-up company before it gets off the ground. Similarly the wrong engagement model can drain profit through over-servicing transactional or value-added buyers.
The Value-Created Selling model adapted from the book, Why Killer Products Don't Sell, by Dominic Rowsell and Ian Gotts, shown in the drawing below is how discontinuous technology is sold to early adopters; how consulting firms sell and how the very best sales people sell consultatively in large coporations to influence new project initiation.
The Value- Created Selling Model
5. The sales process is by definition an attempt to introduce order and science into selling cycles to create efficiency and performance metrics and as such will always be a top 5 initiative as products, companies, markets and buyers evolve.
6. Equal 5th place was creating sales knowledge. Sales and Marketing Messaging Alignment goes a long way in capturing relevant knowledge and sharing it across customer-facing teams. Buyer-relevant messaging templates integrate the following:
- Industry knowledge about target buyer goals, industry issues and pressure buyers are under
- Product-usage knowledge around capabilities relevant to achieving buyer goals/ satisfying needs
- Best-practices diagnostic questions and buyer-vision questions
- Proof points of relevant successes that are accessible and clear
- Narrative summaries of unique capabilities and tools that integrate capabilities into sales calls and formal correspondence
The above concepts are captured and available for instant download in our white paper, "Converting inbound lead generation into better sales performance"